A future world ruled by evil corporations isn't exactly a new concept, but the Syfy show Incorporated brings something fresh to the idea. Science fiction editor John Joseph Adams says the show's world-building will impress even hardcore science fiction ...
A future world ruled by evil corporations isn’t exactly a new concept, but the Syfy show Incorporated brings something fresh to the idea. Science fiction editor John Joseph Adams says the show’s world-building will impress even hardcore science fiction readers.
“Most shows don’t come anywhere near the world-building sophistication of a science fiction novel, but this one really does,” Adams says in Episode 247 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It’s almost surprising to me that it’s not based on a novel.”
Fantasy author Erin Lindsey, who spent over a decade as a humanitarian aid worker, says that some of that sophistication may be the work of Matt Damon, who’s a producer on Incorporated. She says the show’s depiction of a resource-depleted war zone definitely rings true to her.
“Matt Damon does a lot of not-for-profit work, particularly focused on Water.org, and so he’s spent a lot of time with the UN and with NGOs out in the field,” she says. “And so he’s seen some of these places that not a lot of people get to see.”
Anthony Ha, who covers technology and pop culture for TechCrunch, says that even very good science fiction shows, such as Black Mirror, tend to present future worlds built around a single premise, whereas Incorporated is more ambitious.
“They’re willing to say, ‘This would go in this direction, and this would go in this direction,’ and it’s not just all subservient to this one overarching idea that drives everything, because that’s not how the future works,” he says.
Unfortunately, excellent world-building wasn’t enough to make Incorporated a success—Syfy recently announced that the show won’t be returning for a second season. But Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley hopes that other shows will take a cue from Incorporated.
“I just really hope other shows will look at this and take that example to heart, and have world-building this good in other science fiction shows going forward,” he says.
Listen to our complete interview with John Joseph Adams, Erin Lindsey, and Anthony Ha in Episode 247 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
John Joseph Adams on describing Incorporated:
“One of the things I was thinking about in terms of how to describe the show to people who haven’t seen it—which may not be entirely helpful because I’m going to reference some books that people maybe haven’t read—but it’s kind of like Market Forces by Richard Morgan, plus The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, plus the movie Gattaca, plus the movie Total Recall, plus some cyberpunk thing—I’m not sure which one—but if you mash up all those things together, that’s kind of what this is. I’m a little sad that it doesn’t have the gladiatorial car duels that Market Forces has, but otherwise it’s very similar to Market Forces in a lot of ways. I actually really wanted to know if Paolo Bacigalupi had seen this show, because it just reminded me so much of his work.”
Erin Lindsey on ethical dilemmas:
“[There’s] a scene where Laura is operating in her clinic in the red zone, and she finds what she thinks is this kid, and he’s going to die because this implant he has has burst. And after she saves him, she’s explaining to him very happily that she saved his life from this implant, and he says, ‘Well, you’ve got to put that implant back in, because actually I’m 19 years old, and that implant keeps me a kid so that tricks will pay 10 times more, to have sex with a child.’ And she’s appalled, and she doesn’t know what to do, and he basically says, ‘If you don’t put this back in me, not only do I not eat, but my parents don’t eat, my siblings don’t eat, my cousins don’t eat,’ and on and on. Those kinds of ethical dilemmas are very, very real, and they’re really compelling, and I would have liked to see more of that.”
Erin Lindsey on media democratization:
“The ‘democratization’ of the entertainment industry and the fact that there is this glut of content, is really wonderful from the point of view of the consumer, but it essentially means that there’s so much clutter in the space—competing for the attention of the viewer—that the marginal probability of any specific property succeeding is really, really low. … I think the takeaway here for people who really enjoyed this show, or really enjoyed BrainDead or any of these other things that are getting cancelled, is to dig deeper in making your entertainment choices than whatever pops up at the top of your algorithm. … [Most people] are very lazy about their entertainment choices being curated for them, and as a result it’s just a drift to the middle.”
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